Picture Snob

Garden Tools

September 21, 2011

Canners are on sale now!

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If you're interested in bargains for preserving your fruits and vegetables, you can find many bargains now like this one. Granite Ware canners are a classic solution to preserve fruits and vegetables. The porcelain surface and steel core absorbs energy and evenly distributes heat to the contents. This is a canner that heats rapidly.

You can preserve tomatoes or fruit, processing 7 quart jars at a time. The canner comes with rack for easy lifting jars in and out and it's smooth, hard finish that won't burn and resists staining and won't trap odors or food particles and cleans up easily. It is corrosion and chemically resistant so it will last a long time. One downside is that it is not recommended for glass stove tops.

At Graniteware Canner

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August 26, 2011

Spice rack makes a good seed saving container

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August is a great month. You can enjoy the fruits of the garden that you've worked so hard to produce. It's a month when you kind of coast a little. But it's good to remember to harvest more than the ripe tomatoes and corn. My corn just started coming in and, man, is it delicious!

Lots of plants are now making seed and it is a fairly easy task to harvest the seed also. I just cut the seeds off my Russian Kale. It is so easy to do. I just clipped the tips of the seeded stalks and put them in a paper bag. Since the stalk and seed pods are bulky, I break them up inside the bag with my hand and throw the husks away. Then the seeds can be stored in a plastic bag and labeled. The labeling is really necessary because although you think you might remember, the seeds of all the cabbage family look exactly alike. So be careful you know which is which.

The cilantro is also going to seed. The seed of cilantro is the spice coriander. So the seed can be used to replinish your spice rack as well as stored for more cilantro. Try planting the seed now and to get in a last crop of cilantro. It is a quick growing plant and can provide tasty additions to salads and salsas up until the first frost.

At Spice Rack

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August 25, 2011

Lots of good buys on lawn furniture

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At this time of year, as autumn approaches, the lawn furniture begins to go on sale. Amazon is full of bargains. This Strathwood Chaise lounge would provide years of comfortable ease. The back adjusts to five positions and there is a tray that extends out and then folds back in. The chair's slotted surface allows rain to flow through, rather than collect and damage the wood. Of course the down side is you have to buy or make a cushion for this model, also on sale. Rust-resistant hardware and mortise and tenon construction add to the piece's strength and durability.

It's made of eucalyptus wood which is hard and weathers well. It will weather when exposed to the elements, turning a soft shade of silver/gray similar to the weathering of teak. In addition, when untreated, natural splitting or cracks will appear, but this will not affect the durability of the furniture. If you want to guard against this weathering process and to maintain a desired look, apply coats of a hardwood oil.

At Chaise Lounge

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August 24, 2011

A float recliner for easy living

A floater is perfect for the pool, the lake, or the river, maybe even the ocean! This floater features a backrest, headrest, and an ottoman-style open footrest. It even has a built in cupholder so you can sip while you lounge around.
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The Spring Float recliner is made of tough ABS plastic, with a super-quick Jet Valve for easy inflation and deflation. It's also a breeze to carry thanks to the mesh carrying bag, which lets you conveniently tote it to the beach or pool. And when you're done on the water, the Spring Float folds up easily for transport and storage. The Spring Float recliner--which supports up to 250 pounds--measures 17.5 by 2.3 by 20 inches when folded.

You might as well reward yourself for all the hard work you put into the garden!

At Float Recliner

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August 9, 2011

A juicer/steamer makes extracting juice easy and mess free

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Here is another great tool for processing your garden bounty. This stainless steel juicer is simple to use. You add fresh fruit in the top container, fill the bottom container with water, and bring to a boil on the stove top. The steam from the boiling water gently extracts the juice, which drips into the center pan where it can be collected from the surgical-quality tube. You can drink the vitamin-rich juice fresh, or save it for making jelly or syrup. Without the center pan and tube, the juicer steamer can also be used to steam vegetables on the stove top.

Instructions and a recipe book come included. One user makes elderberry juice which she cans to use for winter colds and flu! Strawberry, grape, peach and apple all release their juice and their nutrients with this method of processing.

At Stainless-Steel Juicer Steamer

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August 4, 2011

Mid Summer Garden delights and invites a fall planting

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So great to be away for 10 days and come back to a garden full of vegies and be able to pick kale, lettuce, summer squash and cucumbers for supper. This is really one of the great pleasures of gardening and of life. To have grown your own food connects you to the earth and the planet and to all life in ways grocery shopping just cannot even begin to touch.

Even though this year the garden is late, the corn is just starting to tassle and there are very few ripe tomatoes, it is still producing enough to feed me and half the neighborhood. Peppers are ripe and green beans just coming on so it's a total cruise from here on to the end of the growing season.

However that shouldn't stop us from thinking about fall planting of lettuces, peas, and greens of all kinds. If your soil is too hot from the summer sun, think about getting a sun shade to protect the seedlings from sunburn. The problem I see with this item is that you have to rig up your own frame to hold the shade fabric in place. I guess you would need staples or a grommet kit to really make it work well.

At Coolaroo shade fabric

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August 3, 2011

The problems of an aging lawnmower overcome

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I bought a Craftsman lawnmower, a 6.0 self propelled one, my first venture into self propelled. It's really been a good mower, but this year I've had it to the repair shop several times. Once at the beginning of the year for a tune up and blade sharpening and the next two times, it's been the transmission. The belt keeps slipping off, and once broke.

Last evening it happened again as I was mowing the high grass around the new house. It looks so much better now that it's been mowed. It looks as if it had a lawn. It's just an illusion. The high grass is sparce and there's lots of bare ground showing, but the mowed grass will help create a mulch for seeds to germinate. But the mower stopped and at that point I started considering a new mower.

I decided after reading up on mowers and looking at comsumer reports to find the best buy. So many choices! And lots of new features from electric start(tempting) to rear wheel drive(more traction) to self cleaning blade(not really so good--you have to hook up a hose to do the job). There was one feature I like which was the ability to remove the grass bag with the mower running because the wheel stop independently. It also means you can pick up a large rock or stick and remove it before runninng it over without having to start the engine again. All these new features cost of course and noticed that a lot of mowers were not carb compliant enough for Californa.

A friend came by and showed me how to put the belt back on the wheel which is simple enough to do. There were only three screws to undo the cover. But I decided on the replacement mower. This Husqvarna seems to have all the features I want.

At Husqvarna HU800HW (22") 160cc Honda Self-Propelled Lawn Mower

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August 2, 2011

A food dehydrator is a good investment

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This is a simple and lightweight dehydrator that has five removable trays. You can dry a variety of delicious nutritious snacks with this great tool for preserving your garden bounty. Dried fruit is a tasty way to stave off hunger without consuming tons of calories.

This dehydrator is designed for efficient, even drying. It handles everything from fruit slices to beef jerky on five spacious, height adjustable trays. It's equipped with an electric fan and automatically rotating trays that spin in both directions. It is designed to prevent the overheating that eliminates food's vital nutrients.

The clear vented lid controls moisture and lets you monitor the process without disruption. Includes 5 stackable rotating trays, fruit leather sheet, drying screen and instructional cookbook.

At Rotating Food Dehydrator

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July 8, 2011

Save the taste of summer with a pressure canner

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Here's a real deal. This is a three hundred dollar canner for under $200! As you know,
a pressure cooker is generally recommended when canning vegetables and nonacid fruit, since the high heat that can be generated will kill more bacteria than a regular hot water bath. This canner is made from cast aluminum, with sturdy screws to seal the lid to the pot and because of this, it requires no rubber or plastic gaskets or rings. Its 21-1/2-quart capacity holds 19 pint jars or 7 quart jars. A three-setting pressure regulator valve is included, and the pressure gauge gives a clear reading.

It has a geared steam gauge with an automatic overpressure release. It has settings of 5 psi, 10 psi, and 15 psi. The size is 15-3/8 inches high with 12-1/4-inch inside diameter. These canners are made in the USA which is something to be aware of. No made in China on this pressure canner!

At All-American 21-1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner

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July 7, 2011

A Harvesting Bag to bring in the garden bounty

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This harvesting bag is lightweight, durable and roomy. More importantly it's wearable. You can put it around your waist or over your shoulder and have your hands free to weed or pick the day's harvest. It has a patented ring held opening which keeps the bag open as you go along the rows. It holds five gallons of weeds or fruit and vegetables.

The opening is 10 inches in diameter so there's no fumbling around, trying to fit the fruit in the bag and it's almost two feet deep so there's plenty of room to bring in all you can eat and more. All parts of this product, including the packaging, are certified recycled materials. The design is extremely well thought out. It even has a Velcro pocket for your phone or ipod.

At Harvesting Bag

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July 6, 2011

Vine clips are easy to use and effective

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This packet comes with fifteen durable clips that can support your flowers, vines and other plants as they start to mature. I have some newly planted trees that need these vine clips badly to keep them from bending into a C shape. The clips can be used for training roses, wisteria and grapevines as well as any other climbing plant.

Once the clips are in place they provide support while holding the plant securely in place.
You don't have to fool with twine, rope, wire or any other the other makeshift means we often find and grab when we need to keep a plant stable and upright. A very handy addition to the gardener's tool kit.

At Vine Clips

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June 27, 2011

Loving care and a three tined hoe makes for garden success

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That love and care can make houseplants thrive is now unquestioned, but garden plants thrive on the same love and care. I am always stunned by the response I get from row vegetables after I have gone over the row, weeding and loosening the soil around each plant. Often within a day, they are perked up and have grown! If I add some manure tea after the weeding, they soar! It's one of the things that makes gardening such a joy--seeing that response from plants you have cared for.

The weather here has been so wet and cool and cloudy that everything in my garden has been sitting there waiting out the winter. Today is the first day of full sun and warmth. It is such a good feeling to get out into the sunshine and the garden and start working. Birds are singing away. There is a Bullock's Oriole nesting nearby, and a Western Tanager as well as lots of robins, including one robin who keeps fluttering against my windows, trying to either scare or mate with his own image.

One of the tools I use to weed seedlings is a three tined hoe. It scratches the soil and tears up small weeds. You can work really close to seedlings with this hoe and also hill up the soil around the seedlings. Most plants like soil around their base. It helps support the plant and sometimes, they will make more roots higher on the stem.

At Tine Hoe

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June 22, 2011

A good timer for irrigation is a great tool

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It's time to get the hoses, the sprinklers and the timers out. It hasn't been terribly hot or dry, but nonetheless, summer is coming here in Northern California and with summer comes irrigation. I usually get set up with two timers in the garden plus some soaker hose on the strawberries as they are always thirsty(and hungry, but more about that later). Then I have one timer and a hose and sprinkler with each that I move around the yard to keep it nice and green.

What this means is that I have used many many timers to save myself the trouble of remembering to turn the water on, and more importantly to turn it off. I'm going to do a series on various times that I have tried, some successfully and some not. I got an Orbit Sunmate single port digital timer for review last fall, but waited until we might be using timers to review it. Digital means you can program it and single port means that it is to be used with only one hose and sprinkler.

It's supposed to be simple to program and indeed it is! You put in two AA batteries and turn a dial to clock set to put the current time in. No other buttons to push. That was a little startling. You just turn the dial to start time and set the time to begin watering. It's really simple once you realize that's all you have to do. The next dial setting how long you want the watering to be and you click in the minutes desired. Turn the dial again to say how often you want the watering. There you can choose every six hours up to seven day intervals. Then you turn the dial to Auto. I have to say this is one of the simplist timers I have ever programed. Even better, somehow I misplaced the instruction and was able to access them online and print them for myself without hours of searching and/or phone calls.

This timer has a rain delay so that you can stop the watering for a few days or less, and has a simple manual override so you can get an extra watering in when needed. I have hooked this on to the faucet and so far it has worked perfectly. All in all a smooth and very easy set up. Oh, but hey, if you're digitally challanged like me, you need to know to take the 6:00am plastic sticker off the time window before trying to set the time. I kept thinking it wasn't working, because the 6:00am didn't change as I tried to set the time. Duh! Otherwise for one port timers, this simple machine gets a 9 out of 10 for set up!

At Orbit Sunmate 91213 One-Dial One-Outlet Hose Tap Timer

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June 14, 2011

Leaf Blower antipathy! Get a good hand rake!

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Im sorry. I just can't bring myself to check out leaf blowers for this site. I can't stand them and maybe it is my puritan upbringing. My father ranted about automatic shift cars--"Too lazy to shift the gears!" I was brought up using a push lawnmower as I've blogged about before. But the noise is the main reason I don't like them. And the fact that it's using gas and making exhaust fumes on a task that used to be kind of fun for me as a child. We piled the leaves up high and then would jump in them for a soft landing.

I'm still an advocat of the hand held rake. I use a tarp and rake the leaves or mowed grass or pulled weeds into it and pull it along to another spot until I get a full load to take to the compost pile. Nothing heats compost up faster than cut grass which is one reason for raking it rather than letting it stay and decompose in the yard.

The Yard Butler is pricey but I like the fact that the tines are replaceable and that they are flexible enough to rake over bedding plants.

At Yard Butler

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